The Story of Second Year

This is the first time I have written a draft to a piece I was going to post on this blog. The ambition – when I started this blog, my sole purpose was that I would ensure unfiltered content. My brain, to my hands, to you. Why this was important to me, was because I wanted to ensure a very conversational tone, and stop being high-snooty, secret-y about who I really am. It’s very easy, in University, and in life, in general – to put a mask on, prevent people from digging through your layers. I didn’t quite enjoy doing that with people. The blog became my haven.

This draft, therefore, is an important step back. It’s still very raw, very unedited, but this story is very personal, and therefore, I thought it best to take the time to write it out – see what it develops into, and then see if I want to publish this in parts or as a single piece. (Edit: It’s a single piece)

I needed a year like this in my life: one that threw up continuous challenges, got me to question my passions, my ambitions, my outlook toward things – re-evaluate and re-assess if you will. I needed it because I was very enthusiastic in my first year. As a fresher, the whole experience of University was so fresh, I loved it. This year has seen me grow as an individual, and I feel that, honestly.

If you’ve read 230 odd words of an introduction, you might as well read through the rest of it, by the way. I’m not going to structure this like mad, but I’m hoping to be able to expose my emotions as best as I can. This is a good time to write this piece because I have a week of second year left, after which, when I go home, I won’t care enough to write this – of this sentiment, I am certain.

I was so scared when I came to this place the first time. Just moving away from home to University, was extremely scary. I wasn’t homesick, as much as I was nervous of floating into the crowd, and becoming one among several products of this place. Especially since the batch size here is almost four times as the NLS, I was sceptical about whether I would be able to forge my own path – or whether I’d get stuck into the trappings of a system and become formulaic in my approach to things – something I vehemently despised.

More importantly, what I was very worried about, was that I wouldn’t know everybody I shared a campus with. Over 5 years, one individual in Law school sees 9 batches pass out. What was enjoyable about school was that there was some form of connection with everyone you wore orange and blue to school with, and I wasn’t sure the same could be said here. With 9 batches, 200-odd people per batch, what I told myself, very naively, was that I would strive to connect with as many individuals as I could over the next few years. Only because I was in such a phenomenal atmosphere, and there was so much to learn from people around me – especially considering we all shared the same space. Differing perspectives, different views. A small goal for me in my first month was to pick up the names of all my batchmates and at least attempt being comfortable sharing a meal with every single individual in my batch. It was a start.

As the year progressed, however, I realised I didn’t know the names of so many of my fifth years or didn’t have any connection with several of them, and I understood I had gone into a spiral of failing at one of the things I really wanted to do in college. Meet people.

So I vowed, over summer, that I would do so with the new incoming batch. Become an individual people could talk to on campus, about anything, everything – because it is so important to have someone here you can talk to, especially in first year, when everything is strange, unknown. Again, more importantly, gain a bit of knowledge from my “juniors” – the first time I’d ever use those words.

While setting out on this ambitious endeavour, I failed to account for a couple of things. First, I forgot I had multiple excuses and commitments that had already been planned for my first month as a second-year. Why do I call them excuses? Because, in hindsight, that what they are. I was busy enough in my first month to avoid a lot of interaction with the first years, especially when they just came into college. By interaction, I literally mean just getting to know people. Second, I failed to realise that there existed public opinion and a notion of cliques that had formed within my batch within the first year. This, I understood over a period of time. Perception is very key, and can hugely affect the way people interact with you in this place. Especially since we share the same space – everyone has an opinion about everyone. Law students are judgemental – is that a surprise?

What this meant, was that I barely knew any first years in the first month. I soon interacted with a couple as the months progressed, but I then sunk into my moot (something I’ll discuss later on), but that meant that I withdrew into a rabbit hole. While I now have a few friends from the junior batch, there aren’t as many I’m comfortable with, or know.

Is this a regret? Yes.

Why? Because I missed an opportunity to know people. And that’s a sinking feeling, especially when there have been multiple opportunities. I’m an extrovert by nature, but this is one of the things that I see in my second year that is reflective of introverted tendencies.

But it’s okay to be an introvert! Why regret it? Of course it’s okay to be an introvert, I recognize that. But that’s not who I was when I came to this college, and I don’t want to change the extroverted part of my nature. It’s something I quite enjoy.

My mother often jokes that she worries that I have no friends. Now she has more reason to believe it’s true.

So yes, in summary, I’m disappointed with how I didn’t chill/hang with my juniors. It’s a learning though. I still have three years with them – hopefully that changes.

Let’s talk about other things, for this is becoming a very long piece.

Let’s talk about what happened after my first month in college. Moot.

For new readers, what is a moot and how do I feel about mooting? It is a simulation of courtroom proceedings where law students argue a fake case with real law and pretend to be lawyers which we will be in five years. I love it. It’s fun, and I like the thrill of learning things I didn’t know before.

This year, I participated in a fancy moot. It is fancy because it attracts lots of worldwide participation, is on Public International Law, and is very competitive. I committed to participating in the moot somewhere around June or July, I can’t quite remember. Let’s call this moot Barbie.

So, here’s the thing about this moot. It was a dream of mine before Law school happened, and I was attached to it from before I decided to study Law, so I possess some form of emotional/sentimental attachment to this moot.

As I mentioned earlier, it is extremely competitive, and sees cutthroat participation in India to escape the shackles of this country and go show off argumentative skills in America. Crazy no? Except only 4 teams go. Last year, my University was one of the 4, it was great.

In first year, over the course of my previous moot, what I developed was this love for the art of mooting. I enjoyed doing it, and therefore, participated actively and became very enthusiastic about the entire thing. The amount I enjoyed it is more than I’ve ever loved any other activity, and I worked hard toward it, under some very capable guidance. It taught me lessons I’m carrying with me for the rest of my life, but changed a lot of my attitude towards “work”. I stopped being lazy, as I once was, which was something even Board exams couldn’t shake off in the 12th. Eventually, we did well at the moot – an extremely satisfying feeling.

What changed this year? This time around, I loved it so much, I wanted to enjoy the process of participating in Barbie, but on a crazy level, for the first time, I participated in Barbie wanting to win Barbie. That was the sole focus for me. Winning. Making it big.

This, compared to the first-year that just wanted to enjoy things. That change in attitude made a marked difference to the way I prepared. I zoned out of everything else over the course of preparation, and immersed myself in Barbie completely. We lost.

While I had enjoyed the process loads and learned a lot, because I approached it with the mentality of having to win, the loss was tough. I had failed in winning over Barbie, which was tough to take in.

It’s taken a while to get over.

What did I learn out of this? I’m not a guy that cares about winning. As long as I’m having fun, all that matters to me is doing my best. I’ve never really been a “winner”, in terms of getting medals, and other such things. This doesn’t mean I’m not competitive. I am. But, hey. What’s the point in winning if you don’t enjoy it? That’s the ethos behind the way I’ve approached things. The small change in attitude meant such a massive change in my work – it was crazy.

In the aftermath of Barbie, I’ve become a bit of a recluse. I find work to keep me busy, because I don’t want to talk to too many people. A lot of this is down to the fact that I am worried that I will combust at some point. This isn’t an emotion I have felt before, so I dealt with it by finding other things to do – and that worked out pretty well.

What I’ve gotten figured out is that I really want to win Barbie, but I love her too much so I’m not going to let the winning bit guide every fibre of my being, if I ever get to participate for Barbie again.

What else has happened this year?

I haven’t attended as many classes as I did in the first year. When I first came into the University, I promised myself I’d loot this place for all the knowledge and information I could extract out of it. A large part of that, for me, was in attending classes and taking down notes. This year I had a lot of attendance exemptions, moot work, and other Committee/Internship work. I missed a few classes because I slept through the day, just to catch up on sleep – this happened to me post Barbie a lot.

That sucked. Again, as an individual, I hate relying on second-hand information, so having to scavenge for notes is  not a process I enjoy, and learning from someone else’s notes feels like I’m cheating myself – I question what I did the entire year while staring at someone else’s beautifully crafted notes.

Additionally, it’s a horrible feeling to know that you haven’t listened to people attempt to drill some Law into you. When you like something, you try to take it in, however you can. Think of drugs and the extent people go for those – injections, inhalation, digestion – lots of mechanisms, just to get the drug into your body. I feel the same way about the Law. I love it, and I really just wanted to attend classes and be as excited by every lecture as Rancho was in his first class in 3 Idiots.

I attach a lot of blame on that for how non-interactive and set in stone classes have become this year, but I think a lot of this is down to me as well.

That’s something I hope to return to again next year. The pain of waiting to see if your exemptions have cleared is not something I quite enjoy, especially one day before examinations actually begin. Unnecessary tension.

A lot of negative emotions, as you can see, so far. I’ve changed too much from who I was in the first-year, and this second-year version of me is not a part of me I’ve enjoyed, or been completely comfortable with.

Let’s talk about positives now.

I’ve developed and forged a few strong friendships. In the time that I sunk into a rabbit hole, a few individuals did reach out to ensure that I stayed sane through everything, and that I didn’t lose too much of who I was in the process of working. It isn’t something they were successful in, but I found out who I had become attached to in this University. Just a bit of comfort out of the year.

I’ve taken on a couple of challenges: like this writing thing. And they manage to brighten up even the worst days I have over here. Which is a satisfying feeling.

And I’ve discovered myself.

In a very weird way, I figured out some more principles I love about life, and the way I approach life. See, what I now appreciate, truly, is the fact that I know that I’m not being true to myself, and who I am, if I do things the way I did them through the course of the year. That’s something I’m grateful for.

Finally, and this is the conclusion of this piece,

I realized the importance of time. A lot of things happened this year that taught me that I really need to enjoy my time here. Nothing else matters to me. I’m investing five years of my life here. The least I can get out of it is a bit of laughter and some friends.

I know that this piece is extremely long, but if you’ve read it till here, thank you so much. I’m grateful you read this rant.

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